Speaking in Geneva on Tuesday, following a closed-door meeting with the US and Russian officials, UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said Washington and Moscow had been discussing ways to work towards the reintroduction of a ceasefire.
De Mistura told reporters that the third round of intra-Syrian peace talks is set for August. “In the context of the bilateral meeting today, it was also agreed that we, the UN – the facilitator, the mediator – should continue preparing proposals for addressing difficult issues that are related to the [talks].”
But the HNC said that de Mistura had said “nothing new”, and that there was “no progress on the ground” to convince the opposition to return to the negotiating table.
The HNC, the opposition’s main negotiating bloc, has previously said progress must be made on the implementation of ceasefires, the lifting of sieges and access to humanitarian aid before it will return to Geneva.
An analyst said de Mistura used the word “homework” during Tuesday’s press conference, meaning the technical delegations from both the American and the Russian sides needed to figure out “how and if” they could somehow work together.
The Americans, added the analyst, would have to compromise on how to discern between groups like al-Nusra, which the UN describes as a “terrorist” group, and moderate opposition rebel groups, as the two often fight side-by-side.
All previous peace talks meetings were have collapsed after Assad regime’s brutality against the Syrian civilians. In February, the peace talks were suspended after Assad regime, backed by Russian forces, launched a wide offensive on rebel-held parts including Aleppo.
A nation-wide ceasefire was declared on February 27th and led to resuming Syria peace talks in April. However, Assad regime breached the ceasefire again and committed crimes against civilians leading to the end of peace talks too.
More than 450.000 Syrians were killed in the past five years of the Syrian crisis.